First Step to Healing Emotions After Divorce: Letter to self, Refuse to Be with People like Version 1.0

Your memories of your former spouse and the divorce are not a figment of your imagination.  Refuse to be with people like Version 1.0.  The person you married evolved into a stranger.  A stranger seriously troubled by his past which is evident in his actions, words and deeds.  A stranger who tried to destroy your sanity while under the same roof (either learned military tactics or another personality altogether).  A stranger who can’t recite your favorite color, dislikes, hopes and dreams and someone who never saw you perform your passion even though there was tape after tape from the past recording it.  The person he pretended to be before marriage and before children was a perfect example of behavior modification.  God never changed him, he was changing himself to better suite your ideal image of him to capture you.  You were very accepting of his advances.  He seemed like the soulmate you daydreamed about.  He showered you with attention.  He surprised you at work.  He insisted on holding your hand in public.  He would not let a side-by-side opportunity go by if located in the same room.  He sent you flowers.  He took your laundry to the cleaners.  He raved about you to his mom and dad. He planned trips, bought practical gifts and even insisted that he drive and open your car door. He wrote you love letters, made you music compilations and ran half-marathons with you. He even signed a purity contract before marriage (amazing self-control).  He attended church with you every Sunday for 6 years straight after the nuptials without fail (sickness and travel being the exception). He was your running partner, sexual partner and best friend wrapped up in one husbandry package.  There was really no way you could avoid a marriage proposal or turn him down.  He made himself irresistible.  You were his prey and he knew exactly what to do to capture you in this throng.  You succumbed to Version 1.0 bait.  Your marriage reality didn’t sink in until the first pregnancy.

The first time you noticed something was off was when the pregnancy indicator showed up red the night before your wine tasting party and you shared the information with him.  It shouldn’t have been a surprise, you were not taking birth control pills or using other contraceptives.  He seemed excited about the news.  The night of the party, lots of friends came to explore the different wine flavors.  While you were extremely conscientious to spit out all the tastings, he used the tastings to get belligerently drunk. He was jovial all evening and interacting with mutual friends.  However, this was the first evening he could have died in your presence.  He drank so much he started vomiting and you found him upstairs.  Everyone went home after the tasting, no one saw him like this but you. He could have suffocated on his vomit.  He could have died right then and there. That’s how awful it was.  At that moment, you knew you something was terribly wrong.  The gradual change started that night.  He avoided all discussion of the drunken mess.  He said he felt comfortable to let go around friends (so, for 6 years he didn’t feel comfortable letting go?).  He wasn’t telling you everything.   You were sad but after giving yourself a pep talk you quickly brushed it off in place of baby preparations the following days, weeks and months.  After the baby arrived, you were thrilled even though caring for another human being seemed like a huge undertaking.  After going back to work, things began to spiral downhill with all the added stress.  To be real, some stress was self-induced; however, other stress was externally inflicted both at work and at home.  Thankfully he did not drink like that around you again, but saved the alcohol consumption for outside the home.

You started to change too, but only after the baby arrived and he started to mistreat you. You were not yourself. You were a ghost of a person you used to know especially after working so much with an infant at home, losing hours and hours of sleep.  His caring self, evaporated. His curious self became static. His friendship with you dwindled to roommate status.  Occasionally, there would be makeup sessions, but he couldn’t shake his new found self.  This new found self made him a horrible husband according to his own analysis.  You felt like you were in prison, but on the outside holding it together for friends and family and praying on your knees that something would give.  Amazingly enough, he kept his social commitments to friends and family (that part of him was the same).  Layers upon layers of hurt were inflicted each year after your first child.  Then came forgiveness from you, but not from him.  He could do no wrong.  You were to blame. He kept inflicting hurt the same way and rarely apologized.  The atheist year was the most difficult and it was the last year.

You were in a living nightmare, suffering quietly and prayed desperately for relief.  It came.  It came during the day. A stranger knocked on the door, you opened it and he handed you an envelope with divorce papers.  The divorce saga began.

Please stay away from people like Version 1.0.  You want people in your life that are rich in love, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  You need to be around people that can laugh at a clean joke but are also deep thought-provoking conversationalists who know the art of listening.  If you can’t find these qualities in one person, surround yourself with a variety of friendships.  You need people in your life who love God more than anything, die to pride daily and encourage you on your spiritual journey while you encourage them too.  Do not settle.  You have children that need good examples.  You are not enough.  Do not believe in yourself but believe in the one who made you.  Do not rely on the next version…  Rely on the only version that matters, Jesus.

Considering Divorce? Read this first!

Circling back through the divorce memories, reveals how unbelievable it truly is.  Divorce is an unknown entity by practically half the population.  Every divorce is unique and every divorce shatters relationships like removing a glass card from the glass house of cards.  If people knew better, they would divorce online, or they would use mediationLitigation requires deep pockets and although it looks official to the untrained eye; it is a theatrical play of attorneys playing puppeteer.  In fact, it could be described as the ultimate revenge tool.  Not only is it a revenge tool used by angry spouses, but it most likely is a revenge tool used by rich people as well, people who are not even directly involved in the relationship (this trajectory could develop into a story all on its own).  Oh, the tangled web just keeps getting more complicated.  Only certain people decide to litigate.

People who file for divorce and choose the litigation route can be defined as the following:

1. They have no idea what they are doing or they know the system intimately and choose to use the system for its many pain inflicting levers

2. They want their way no matter what

3. They are impulsive

4. They lack compassion

5. They have secrets they want to protect

6. They are not communicators

7. They do not care about the best interests of the children

8. They will be manipulated by the system whether they know it or not

9. They will use the system to punish their spouse

10. They will try to use every tactic they can to screw over the other spouse, to the extent of submitting false coerced testimony

Understanding divorce is somewhat corrupting in nature.  Innocence and ignorance is a blissful state that has long since died by going through the divorce process (which actually starts the moment the petitioner starts talking with attorneys) – consumers beware.  It is disheartening that the American government does not value its citizens enough to modify and/or do away with the litigation system that is in place.

If you have a heart, do not litigate.

If you have a soul, go to counseling consistently for at least 6 months (don’t settle on a counselor that only one of you likes, find one that is a good fit for both of you).

If you must divorce, do your research and put your broken family first as much as possible.

Financial Discovery in Divorce – 5 Questions to Ask

It’s been so long since discovering evidence that the petitioner had at least one hidden account; almost a year ago now.  After being forced to sell my home with an affordable mortgage (more affordable than rent), I lost my footing.  Everything had a place, and everything was in its place before the move.  After the move, not so much. Because I had to figure things out in 15 days, while caring for two young children and trying to achieve some form of normalcy during the holidays I inadvertently selected movers from a sponsored search ad on Google.  The movers were good at first; however, as the day wore on it became very evident I chose the wrong company.  The end result was chaos and important things went missing.

One important thing that went missing was financial documentation; several bank statements from 4 years ago show transfers between unidentified accounts, accounts the petitioner never identified in his financial disclosure to the court and myself.  (It was no easy task obtaining those statements!  Navy Federal shows partiality to the person who served in the military, so I went to several different branches).  I asked and I asked and I asked for the account numbers to no avail from the bank and petitioner.  Petitioner gave me every excuse in the book of excuses and the bank played dumb.  Once again, having to deal with this lying person that I loved once and other people enabling him in his lying.  Exasperating to say the least! In multiple declarations the mystery account was spoken of; however, going Pro Se or Pro Per means no one cares for the truth if you are unrepresented.  No financial discovery was made at the time.

Before the divorce, our family income was stable and high compared to Census Bureau numbers.  After reflecting on the possible balance of that account today after finding good information on how to perform financial discovery, this is the first time admitting defeat sounds good.  Letting it go must be the best decision.  Over 2 years of petitioner siphoning money there is no possible way the balance of that mystery account is more than $50,000.  Asking these questions helped the decision process:

1. Will opposing counsel or petitioner cooperate without litigation?

2. Do I want further litigation in my case?

3. Is this mystery account worth all the stress that comes from contacting opposing counsel?

4. Will recovering the money give me any satisfaction?

5. Do I need the money to survive?

The answer to all the above questions in my situation is a resounding “NO!”

Decision made.

White flag raised.

It is finished.

No financial discovery needed.

Marrying A Military Man Is A Risk

Something needs to be done about family education in society and the military.  Every immediate family member that is exposed to military personnel with traumatic experiences in their history is at risk for abuse.  The government is taking no responsibility, the military branch is taking no responsibility and schools are taking no responsibility.  This is not only a PTSD issue, this is a human issue.  It is a lack of concern for another human being from the start of their military service.  It begins when young men/women are recruited, it continues when they are serving their country and it continues still when they come home and try to integrate back into civilian life.  Family law profits off this discord that military service cultivates in families.  It is a chain reaction and I wish I knew about it before I got married.

Before you start a relationship know the history of the person you are marrying, because as I have experienced, it can come back to haunt you especially if abuse was not acknowledged and/or identified in the nuclear family that served in the military.  Even a person who wasn’t in the military, but exposed to military parents can suffer in adulthood.  Be fully aware of the indicators by asking a few questions:

1. Did siblings have any developmental issues growing up or unusual behavior?

2. Has the family faced any government authority before?

3. What is the history of the parents and their experiences?

Only recently have people become more acquainted with PTSD.  I have heard that admitting any mental flaw or struggle in the military can set the person up for failure instead of success, this was especially true I assume in the 1970s after the Vietnam war which lasted from 1955 to 1975.  See History.com for more on the Vietnam War timeline.  Soldiers who served in Iraq from 2003 – 2011 will hopefully have a better chance now that counseling is becoming more accepted.

Counseling should be mandatory for every military person that has served during wartime or who has been exposed to someone who has served during wartime.  When these courageous men and women come home they need support and their families need emotional support, not for a year for the life of the retired soldier.  Every person is impacted by their overseas and wartime experiences whether it is acknowledged or not.

Signs to look out for if your spouse is triggered:

1. Nightmares

2. Sudden change in character

3. Sudden change in friends

4. Withdrawing and/or stonewalling

5. Increase in alcohol consumption or marijuana use

6. Strange behavior with children and/or defensiveness

7. Absent and/or not coming home

8. Mood swings

9. Depression

10. Gas-lighting

Note: I am not a psychologist or therapist.  Signs are purely from experience and online research.

The person who divorced me did not want to own up to the trigger list.  He preferred to keep everything buried and locked away (similar to his parents who are still married to this day).  He divorced me, because I was not afraid to point out the abuse that was festering and for some reason he couldn’t make it stop.  He would try on his own, but then fall right back into the same patterns. The abuse to this day remains cyclical.  He divorced me to save face and protect himself from jail, so far his strategy has worked.

Confronting a jaded past is difficult for anyone, confronting the past when there is abuse is almost impossible unless the person who was abused is strong enough to face it and heal; however, if you have children you must stand up for what is right and stop the crazy cycle.  I made the mistake of confronting him before recording the behavior on tape or video.  Do not make my same mistake if there is abuse in your home get it on video. Turning a blind eye is not what is best for your family.  Do what you can to educate yourself on abuse and raising a family with the right parenting style, an authoritative approach from both parents.  Remember, marrying into a military family is a risk especially if someone served during wartime; please understand the possible consequences.

The Depression Cloud of Divorce – Coping During the Holidays

When you have been the one to create holiday traditions in your family and then all the sudden you are forced to be without your children, holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are not met with the same enthusiasm as previous years.  It is just a fact of life, especially if you are newly divorced.  Difficulty dealing with the situation does not end, but becomes increasingly challenging when the other parent decides to violate the custody arrangement or even worse decides to take the kids during the holidays for an extended period despite communicating that you have plans.  Forget jungle emotions, be ready for an entirely new emotional shift.

This shift is called the depression cloud of divorce and it settles in as you near the end of your divorce case.  There has been so much hurt and pain leading up to finalization, by the time you reach the end you are completely numb from head to toe (which occurs from a high conflict divorce like mine).  Suffering is hard.  Suffering without cause is even harder.  The person that you once treasured has squandered your love and treated you like garbage for a lengthy period.  It happened many times before the divorce; however, when you are a forgiving person you bounce back, and the marriage commitment keeps you grounded.  If that’s you, you have a high tolerance for pain like me.  When you have a hard heart, you file for divorce which was said in scripture way before my time.  God’s word is the only book that acts as a remedy to the human condition.

There is no way to cope during the holidays, that’s the hard truth.

You must face the pain and endure.

You must recognize the cloud of divorce, so it doesn’t consume you.

You must persevere.

The only way that you can keep things straight is relying on the truth of God’s word.

People are going to disappoint.  All people are flawed. You cannot rely on people.  People are just a vapor.  Accomplishments by people die with them.  Inventions by people get used and possibly warped by others after you’re gone.  Every hurt inflicted by people on others reflects their heart condition and it is imperative that you do not give them control over you by accepting the blame, because they need a scapegoat.

Take one day at a time.

* Breathe in and out.

* Be ready for the next wave.

The depression cloud of divorce during the holidays is unavoidable and different for every person.  There is nothing that you can tell someone that will suddenly lift the depression cloud.  Some will not recognize they are in the cloud until it is too late.  Others will see it for what it is and still others may keep the cloud around for a very long time, because that is what they are comfortable with.  Change is difficult in either direction.  Feigned optimism during depression is also an option – DON’T DO THIS – YOU’LL MISS THE POINT OF YOUR PAIN.  Coping during the holidays is something that people will say to gloss over the grave situation that is faced by split, separated or divorced people during a time that should be filled with happy memories.  Do not cope.  Face the pain and endure.  Recognize the cloud of divorce, so it doesn’t consume you.  Persevere.  Take one day at a time.  Breathe.  Life is a vapor and the divorce cloud is not forever, be ready for the next wave.  The holidays are almost over.

I have two children and I’m facing this Wild West court system alone.  If you read or get ideas from my original content please donate any amount on PayPal and send money to info@fyidivorce.com.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com

Rethinking Petitioner versus Respondent in Divorce

The Divorce is not always a drawn-out costly process like the documentary Divorce Corp explains.  However, in some cases when you have a Jekyll Hyde estranged spouse a long divorce is inevitable especially if the petitioner selects litigation over mediation, this is my situation.  Whoever files for divorce has more control over the process. In a previous post, Petitioner or Respondent?, respondent is the ultimate choice from my perspective because there’s a personal hedge of protection mentally and you relinquish control to the controlling spouse minimizing potential abuse (the respondent is more optimistic and thinks counseling could solve the issues); however, if the marriage involves a Jekyll Hyde spouse, the divorce is going to take a very long time and the court system becomes the abuse tool (the court does not come close to the actual abuse, but it is abuse nonetheless).  Jekyll Hyde people cannot decide because of their dual mental state.  Divorce requires a decision maker, which is why I’m rethinking petitioner versus respondent.  Consider the following points when deciding to be the petitioner or respondent:

  1. Identify the pitfalls of your marriage that have led you down the divorce thought path. Are they situations that you can recover from?  Have you had consistent counseling?  Do you still have good memories from the past?  Did a major life event change your love for your spouse?
  2. Identify your pressure level (use a scale 1 – 10). Do you work great under pressure?  How do you know you work great under pressure, have you been tested at work or in your family?  Can you rise above the reactions of your spouse if they respond with venom from the action of divorce or the process?
  3. Identify your spouse. How is your spouse going to handle the pressure?  Do they understand their emotions or ignore them?  If they ignore them, filing before they do by mediation could be your answer.  Is the divorce feeling mutual?  Do you have children together that will be impacted by the divorce?  How will your spouse handle co-parenting?  Has your love for your spouse changed because of an outside factor that’s been impacting your spouse making your spouse behave differently?

Assets and children make divorce extremely difficult, sprinkle the relationship with major adversity such as abuse and it is 10x more difficult.  Abuse can include anything from verbal, emotional, financial, physical, sexual and neglectful actions toward each other or one spouse during the marriage and during the divorce.  If one of the pitfalls of your marriage is: we are just not communicating.  It is probably not a pitfall, but a challenge area that can be worked on and eliminated.  If one of the pitfalls is infidelity: this is a difficult pitfall to recover from, because the one that cheated for whatever reason destroyed trust and must be invested in rebuilding trust for the relationship to survive.  Rebuilding trust takes work.  If your spouse is remorseful and ended the affair immediately after you discovered it, you may want to wait to divorce to figure out if forgiveness could improve your relationship.  Do not be hasty with a divorce decision.

Another factor to consider is your pressure level.  Do you buckle when the going gets tough or do you gain strength from facing challenge?  Divorce will test everything about your personality and it will also measure how you cope with the emotional roller-coaster that accompanies divorce especially if you go the litigation route which I highly dissuade you of pursuing.

People who petition for divorce are usually the former rather than the latter.  Deciding to divorce eliminates ALL responsibility immediately.  The initial pressure of the relationship is lifted.  Divorce appears to be the easy-way out instead of facing the problems that started the conflict in the first place.  If you are a decision maker and the other person is challenged in the decision department, you should probably consider being the petitioner; however, only if you are high functioning under pressure.  Try to limit attorney involvement as much as possible.

Attorneys add to the pressure, they do not relieve it.  Financial strain increases when you have an attorney and an attorney is skilled at rhetoric, so if they need the business they will keep the tab open and file frivolous motions which adds more stress to an already stressful situation, another drawback of litigation.  A divorce will test your pressure level.  If you have little tolerance when it comes to pressure respondent; try to salvage your marriage as much as possible, and do not divorce!  Divorce is ugly and grueling.  If there’s no abuse, I am a huge proponent of salvaging your marriage and working out the kinks.  It is possible.  I have seen it happen.  Be sure to identify the pitfalls of your marriage by asking if it is salvageable, identify your pressure level and carefully assess how the other person will function in the divorce environment before you file and become the petitioner.

I have two children and I’m facing this Wild West court system alone.  If you read or get ideas from my original content please donate any amount on PayPal and send money to info@fyidivorce.com.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com

The Ex Parte – 3 Lessons Learned from Divorce Court

In the beginning of the divorce, there were many incidents that triggered a fight or flight response in me which made me think it was an emergency.  For example, there was a temporary restraining order in place for a real emergency and a few days after (I don’t even know what to call him – Nameless) came knocking on my door and threatened to come in.  One day after church, Nameless broke into the residence by locksmith and took valuable items.  I called the police and filed an Ex Parte, because I felt violated.  Even though Nameless defied the restraining order, nothing happened for his violation.  It was an out of body experience.  All this was unfolding before my eyes and I just watched in disbelief.  Nameless attempted to break in several times after the theft by using a locksmith again, the court did nothing about it.  Nameless still had his license with the home address clearly displayed, so the locksmith had no idea that Nameless had no right to enter the home (one time I was home and opened the door on them – I was shielded by the storm door).  Both Nameless and the locksmith scampered away in embarrassment.  Nameless is really good at covering up his emotions when others are present.  I was really glad the locksmith was there to act as a witness.

In my naivety, I did not file a contempt hearing because I thought the violation was self-explanatory, there was a police report and if orders are broken I thought it was in direct rebellion against the court.  DUMB.  I did not have an attorney, so it did not matter.  In hindsight, if I had filed contempt it probably would not have mattered anyway, because I did not have an attorney.

1st Family Law Lesson: Divorce court does not operate according to what is right and wrong.  They assume everyone is lying and the court processes are leveraged to lengthen decisions as much as possible.

I did not hire an attorney, because I do not make enough money to hire an attorney.  Did I want an attorney?  Yes.  Did I interview attorneys to find one that I could afford?  Yes.  Did I find a great attorney?  Yes.  Did I hire her? No, because her retainer started at $10k upfront.  Did I eventually hire an attorney?  Yes.  Could I afford the cheap attorney that I hired? No.

2nd Family Law Lesson: Good attorneys like to win, if they cannot win they will not accept your case if they are ethical attorneys.  What is an attorney’s definition of winning?  Best asset division, best custody arrangement and deep pockets.

When I hired an attorney, there were zero Ex Parte hearings, mostly because my attorney advised against it, not because there was not a valid reason.  Luckily the attorney I did hire was somewhat ethical and he understood from reading the paperwork my position in the case.  Did I have to eventually self-represent anyway? Resounding YES!

3rd Family Law Lesson:  Once you have an attorney, you must use your attorney – NO EXCEPTIONS.  This rule makes it difficult for the average person to keep an attorney for very long, because the attorney must attend every hearing ($$$).  Plus, if you think the judge needs to hear or be alerted to something important, the attorney must file the paperwork for you (if the attorney doesn’t want to file the paperwork or has another pressing case the attorney will advise against it).

Nameless recently had his attorney file an Ex Parte.  It was not a valid Ex Parte reason; however, Nameless somehow got the ‘Granted’ checkbox checked.  I did not take my own advice from 6 Things A Divorce Attorney Won’t Tell You.  The Ex Parte is full of lessons for the one going pro se.  Remember, Lesson #1 Right & wrong do not matter in divorce court; Lesson #2 Good attorneys like to win; and, Lesson #3 Once you hire an attorney you must use your attorney.  Family law is the Wild West, do not expect anything from a broken system without checks & balances in place.

I have two children and I’m facing this Wild West court system alone.  If you read or get ideas from my original content please donate any amount on PayPal and send money to info@fyidivorce.com.

Thanks for supporting an unbiased divorce opinion blog at FYIDivorce.com